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Old 07-17-2011, 10:57 PM   #1
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Default CA cat considerations

So as I understand it, as of a couple years ago, if you replace a catalytic converter on any car in CA, it must either be an OE replacement or have a CARB EO number.

Has anyone had to deal with this while getting a smog check? I only ask because a dude at the smog station in front of me had a Jeep Cherokee and got his **** rejected hardcore because his cat didn't comply with the rules.

I see there being 3 solutions assuming I don't want to pay the $$ for a CARB-compliant cat:

1. Use the stock cat for smog check time and aftermarket for all other times: This may require retuning during smog time due to the greater restriction caused by the smaller stock cat.

2. Use larger aftermarket cat all the time and hope the tech doesn't notice: I don't want to get fucked and fail a smog check, so this isn't my favorite option. But maybe the Cherokee above was easy to check because it's high. The miata would take considerable more effort to check the cat for compliance.

3. Use larger aftermarket cat, but hide it with OE-like heat shielding aka ninja-cat: I like this option the best. I looked at my stock cat and I figure the only way the tech can tell it's stock is that it looks rusty and has the heat shield around it. If I can replicate the weathered look + heat shield, I would be good even if dude tries to check my cat.

Discuss.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:02 AM   #2
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lol, become friends with a smog guy and make your problem disappear. Ask your friends if they know of a place for a special smog?

The past 2 times I've had to deal with smog, they only took a quick peek but I'm not sure what they were looking for.

**** this state. A lot of the smog regulations don't actually make your cars emissions any cleaner.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:05 AM   #3
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Fully agree. I',m of the thought that as long as your **** passes sniffer, it shouldn't matter what you have installed, but since CA doesn't subscribe to the same thought, I still think about this stuff.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:08 AM   #4
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FWIW, supposedly trying to pass the sniffer with a CARB approved cat will be a little easier. I've never actually tested this theory and honestly I don't plan to. The cheapest CARB approved cat I found was in the 4-500 dollar range.

www.car-sound.com
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:11 AM   #5
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yeah that's more $$ than I want to spend. It's basically double the price for a stupid eo#
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:31 AM   #6
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option 4: slip the inspector a $100 bill?
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:34 AM   #7
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option 4: slip the inspector a $100 bill?
This simply doesn't work anymore. It's all about trust. The Bureau of Automotive Repair has been known to do undercover runs. Usually BAR guys are obvious (hushpuppies and pocket protector), but I know if a random guy I didn't know tried to slip me 100 to pass his car I'd tell him to get lost.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:59 AM   #8
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Bribery hasn't worked since the big crackdown 5 or 6 years ago where they pulled a ton of licenses and actually handed out some jailtime. No more clean-pipe inspections either.

The best thing to do is just find a small, independent shop and be cool about it. The place where I took my '92 to get smogged was a one-bay "inspection only" station in a seedy neighborhood run by a guy who kept a half-dozen motorcycles parked there. The visual portion of the inspection consisted of "You got the paperwork for that turbo setup?" (Yeah, it's right here in this manilla envelope.) "That's ok, just checking."
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:13 AM   #9
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One trick, put in the butterfly brace. It obstructs visibility of the cat, and no service tech wants to remove/install the butterfly just to check the cat. As long as there is a cat, and it looks stockish, then I think you should pass visual with the butterfly.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by gaius49 View Post
One trick, put in the butterfly brace. It obstructs visibility of the cat, and no service tech wants to remove/install the butterfly just to check the cat. As long as there is a cat, and it looks stockish, then I think you should pass visual with the butterfly.
Technically speaking a smog tech isn't even allowed to lift the car to take the brace out. This should put you in the safe zone unless you have somehow made your smog tech paranoid/sketched him out.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MartinezA92 View Post
Technically speaking a smog tech isn't even allowed to lift the car to take the brace out. This should put you in the safe zone unless you have somehow made your smog tech paranoid/sketched him out.
Lowered car - check
Butterfly brace - check
Stockish looking cat - check

I think I will be ok, I will report back in once I actually get smogged in the next couple of weeks.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:37 AM   #12
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Good list. Please do check back in and let us know how thorough the tech was.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jasonrobo02 View Post
Good list. Please do check back in and let us know how thorough the tech was.
Well, I had a pre test done to see if I would have any trouble and it went fine, except for failing the tail pipe test due to a fouled cat. I have ordered a replacement to use for inspections, lets see how this goes.

Just to emphasize, I passed the visual on the pre test with no trouble.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:54 AM   #14
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Pull you exhaust and save your factory cat(s) for smog check time, or get another set of factory cats/midpipe and leave them under your workbench "just in case." My 2000 is the cursed "California Model" with the $666.50 main cat and the $499.95 pre-cat and this is exactly what I'm doing. The way I see it, I'm a fried coil away from a $1166.45 emissions equipment repair bill.

****. THAT. ****.

The $75 for a 2001-2005 factory manifold w/heatshields, EGR tube and o2 sensor relocation and another $100 for COPs is cheap *** insurance in this state. Oh and guess what? The car still passes smog on the single main cat, with flying colors.

If it looks stock, they will not question it. R&R the stuff that is not compliant for the inspection. I've also seen guys on the local forum borrow known good/legal units for testing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
The best thing to do is just find a small, independent shop and be cool about it. The place where I took my '92 to get smogged was a one-bay "inspection only" station in a seedy neighborhood run by a guy who kept a half-dozen motorcycles parked there. The visual portion of the inspection consisted of "You got the paperwork for that turbo setup?" (Yeah, it's right here in this manilla envelope.) "That's ok, just checking."
+10 for this! If you are going someplace that is reading part numbers off cat converters, you are going to the wrong testing facilities. You need to visit a place that can test, but not work on/repair emissions systems. This gives them the incentive to get you done and on your way. I've been doing this for years with no issues.

Last edited by EO2K; 07-19-2011 at 02:14 AM. Reason: because fuck CARB, that's why!
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:54 PM   #15
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fyi I've had issues with CA emmisions for awhile... When I first got my car the cat was toast. The tech's check to make sure its the CA cat cause if its not it wont pass because the CA cat uses a different combination of catilysts or maybe more I dont recall.. anyways the best option is to buy a magnaflow high flow ca compliant cat and wait for a coupon or something and a test pipe. throw the cat in for smog swap out to test pipe for 2 years and so on. The magna flwo cat is around 500-600 but through a connection I get em cheap I also have had VERY good luck going to the smallest test only places and just acting all sad like I don't think its gonna pass. Ask a couple retarded questions leave the car HOT and your home free

Before I swapped out the broken automatic (that only went into second gear) the back alley smog guy gave it his best to smog it, whereas another larger company told me to get the fu^& off his property and a few other things (don't go to Mesa Smog in costa mesa)

also with the 95-97 models you gotta have both o2 sensors -_-
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EO2K View Post
+10 for this! If you are going someplace that is reading part numbers off cat converters, you are going to the wrong testing facilities. You need to visit a place that can test, but not work on/repair emissions systems. This gives them the incentive to get you done and on your way. I've been doing this for years with no issues.
Unfortunately, this is scheduled to change in 2013. Smog techs who don't fail enough cars will have something equivalent to a bad "grade".
Pretty much a rating system for smog techs. You're really going to have to know someone then.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:29 PM   #17
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I'm not sure if anyone has multiple cats laying around...
BUT, if you put 2 cats in your exhaust system, it WILL drop your numbers. Probably enough to pass if you're cutting it that close.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Unfortunately, this is scheduled to change in 2013. Smog techs who don't fail enough cars will have something equivalent to a bad "grade".
Pretty much a rating system for smog techs. You're really going to have to know someone then.
Wow, that's incentive to run a business.

If it comes down to it, I still have my stock 99/00 manifold w/functional precat and even a second midpipe with good main cat sitting in the garage. If I fail a visual I spend an afternoon swapping exhaust around and I should be good to go. Too bad my Rotrex will probably never be EO'd, but it should be a pretty easy R&R. I'll report back next year with results
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Old 07-20-2011, 10:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinezA92 View Post
Unfortunately, this is scheduled to change in 2013. Smog techs who don't fail enough cars will have something equivalent to a bad "grade".
Pretty much a rating system for smog techs. You're really going to have to know someone then.
wow so they are telling them they have to fail enough cars. Such BS no wonder Kali has gone to hell.
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinezA92 View Post
Unfortunately, this is scheduled to change in 2013. Smog techs who don't fail enough cars will have something equivalent to a bad "grade".
Pretty much a rating system for smog techs. You're really going to have to know someone then.
That seems ridiculous. Do you have any support for that?
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